Middleton Cup vs Gloucestershire 10/06/23 Match Report
Report by Mikey Titcombe
After an excellent start to the campaign last weekend against Herefordshire, our Middleton Cup team returned home to Royal Wootton Bassett to take on Gloucestershire. The visiting side were Semi-Finalists in the Middleton Cup last season and defeated Wiltshire in the last 16, so revenge was certainly on the minds of the hosts.
The match started as you would have expected between two sides who have been involved in many close battles in the past, with the scores being locked at 30-30 overall after 5 ends. The rink skipped by Russell Francis got off to a flying start, leading 6-1, whereas Graham Shadwell and Steve Snell both trailed 3-8 and 1-6 respectively.
It was all change at 10 ends, as Wiltshire began to move in front. A lead of 12-9 for Neil Collett’s quartet, 12-5 for Neil Yeoman & co and Russell Francis extending his advantage to 12-4, meant a 12 shot lead overall for Wiltshire. Rinks skipped by Mikey Titcombe and Steve Snell trailed by just 3 shots at this stage, and Graham Shadwell had pulled his rink back level at 9-9.
At around 12 ends across the board, with Wiltshire around 20 shots up overall, disaster nearly struck with a quite ridiculous thunderstorm and torrential rain putting the game on hold for almost an hour. Following a green inspection, the umpires deemed the green safe and made the call for play to resume.
At the 15 end mark, this 20 shot margin had been maintained, with Wiltshire leading 87-67. The Russell Francis rink continued to make a significant contribution to the overall score, leading 22-5. The quartets skipped by Mikey Titcombe, Graham Shadwell and Neil Yeoman all held narrow leads, whilst Steve Snell had managed to draw level at 10-10 in what was proving to be a great battle with one of Gloucestershire’s strongest players.
Not willing to take their foot off the accelerator, Wiltshire managed to extend their lead at the 18 end mark to 28 shots. The four winning rinks had managed to extend their advantages, looking to secure their own 2 points, and the 10 points for winning the match overall. Steve Snell trailed by just 2 shots, whilst Neil Collett’s rink were involved in a tough battle on a tricky end rink, and needed to overturn a 5 shot deficit if they were to secure a rink win for Wiltshire.
With ends running out, the overall win was secure, and it was now down to the individual rinks to finish in style and secure Wiltshire as many points as possible. Russell Francis & co were pegged back very slightly, eventually winning 24-10. Graham Shadwell’s rink enjoyed a fantastic last 6 ends, outscoring their opponents 10-3 in this period to record a 22-14 victory. Steve Snell came agonisingly close to adding another 2 points to Wiltshire’s tally, his bowl being inches away from securing the winning shot after being level playing the last end.
Unfortunately for Neil Collett’s rink, they were unable to close the gap, losing out 16-22. It was better news for our other rinks though, as Neil Yeoman managed to shut down a late fightback from his opposition, winning 20-16. A great spell from Mikey Titcombe’s rink saw them win the last 6 ends 8-1, to record a 24-15 victory.
All this means a fantastic 28 shot victory for Wiltshire, 18 points to 4. All eyes will now be on the clash with Devon this Saturday at Topsham, with the winner putting themselves in the driving seat for a place in the quarter finals.
Barry Sictorness, Dave Snell, Andy Moore and Neil Yeoman beat Stuart Hodges 20-16
Arran Tucker, Jake Webster, Dave Godwin and Graham Shadwell beat Ian Gauld 22-14
Andy Blake, James Richman, Tom Pittuck and Russell Francis beat Nigel Cansdale 24-10
Kyle Anderson, Shaun Hicks, Tom Walkley and Steve Snell lost to Lee Williamson 14-15
Tom Warner, Fraser Boynton, Craig Hatherall and Mikey Titcombe beat Nathan Kitchen 24-15
James Nobbs, Keith Hutchens, Graham Hatherall and Neil Collett lost to Pete Stinchcombe 16-22
Wiltshire beat Gloucestershire 18 points to 4, 120 shots to 92.